18th Century English Carriages

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Carriages as the main form of upper class transportation became prominent during the reign of Queen Elizabeth the first. Though first only used for the very old, the ill, or women, it took a couple hundred years for the carriage to be an accepted form of transportation for men of the upper class. At first, riding was the only form of transportation for these men, and men who rode in carriages were considered effeminate.

By the 18th century however, the design and comfort of carriages were improving, making them not only accepted by the wealthy, but used as a status symbol in the material culture of the time. For men, carriage driving became an upper class sport where gentlemen often raced against each other.

Throughout this period, different types of carriages were introduced that varied in their decoration and design. Though primitive carriages resembled farm wagons in many ways, by the end of the 17th century, carriages had springs which absorbed the shock of ruts in the primitive roadway making traveling much more comfortable for those who could afford it. By the beginning of the 18th century, hackney coaches and stagecoaches as a form of public city transportation were in use and often utilized by the rich.